Size and Skill in the Slot

After a season on the scout team that included work at dog linebacker, safety, and ultimately wide receiver, redshirt-freshman C.J. Prosise aims to stake his claim at consistent playing time as a pass-catcher next fall.

Next time a college football head coach, whether his squad finishes 8-5 or 12-0, notes the importance of "bowl practices" for the future growth of his football program, take heed.

Because it was during those coveted extra sessions that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly found a potential starter for his 2013 squad. On the other side of scrimmage.

"We're doing it because we got a glimpse of him during bowl practices," said Kelly of 2012 linebacker/safety C.J. Prosise and his move to wide receiver. "We had him at wide receiver and really loved his ball skills. He's a big kid, 218 pounds, got strong hands, a physical kid."

Through 12 of spring ball's 15 practice sessions, he's been as advertised.

"He has really been a bright spot," said passing game coordinator Mike Denbrock. "As he gets more comfortable in what we're asking him to do, there's a guy that has all the tools to be something pretty good."

Denbrock indicated the initial move of Prosise to the opposite side of scrimmage is commonplace during bowl practices as teams face inevitable attrition at the conclusion of four straight months of football.

"Its a combination of continuing to evaluate the guys in your program. If you have a need at a certain position you can't be afraid to put guys in spots where the football team becomes a little bit stronger and I think that's really what started it," he said.

Its since taken off, with Prosise earning first unit reps in every practice viewing available to the media, the latest a full two-hour segment that found Prosise on the perimeter rather than his normal slot alignment.

Its all part of the process as the receivers learn the concepts of Kelly's offense.

"He's been inside, we moved him outside today," said Kelly when asked about a point-blank drop his redshirt-freshman suffered on an out-cut. "That's the first time he's had to put his foot in the ground and get his head around at all because he's been working inside-out. It's just his development, coming along. I don't think he needs glasses, I think he'll be able to catch the ball. It was pretty evident that he's going to be a really good player, he just needs a lot more work.

Prosise turned heads earlier in the scrimmage when he came back to his scrambling quarterback Everett Golson on a roll right, secured the late throw in front of safety Matthias Farley, then out-raced cornerback Keivarae Russell for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Russell ran several foes down from behind last year in similar situations.

"I think its incredibly important to have a guy there that has both (the ability) to show some physicality to block an alley defender and sometimes a walk-out linebacker, but also being able to do some things with quickness, to get the ball in his hands and get something positive going," said Denbrock.

Prosise noted one crucial aspect of his new position comes naturally.

"My ball skills have always been pretty good," he said. "The move was definitely good for me, I was always good at catching a football. The switch was easy for me because I could just run and catch.

"In high school I played mostly safety and I went on offense just because I was the best athlete on the team. Here its about getting better and finding away to help the team any way I can."

It appears that will be with the ball in his hands, running to daylight. Top Stories